Boston: C.H. Simonds & Co., 1886. First edition. Quarter cloth over pictorial boards. Binding generally soiled and shelfworn. Hinges cracked and central signature proud, but altogether holding well. Handwritten and printed recipes adhered to front pastedown and front endpaper; occasional foxing or finger soiling to the margins. This aside, the present is a surprisingly clean copy internally. A scarce book in institutions and trade, OCLC reports only 15 copies. It has appeared only four times at auction.
"This little volume is sent out with an important mission," the editor, Hattie Burr, informs her readers in the introduction. "Among the contributors are many who are eminent in their professions as teachers, lecturers, physicians, ministers, and authors -- whose names are household words in the land. A book with so unique and notable a list of contributors...has never before been given to the public." And what was the book's mission? "To advocate for the elevation and enfranchisement of woman." While other cookeries had been produced to support women's causes -- notably the 1876 National Cookery Book in support of the Women's Centennial Committee -- none had been publicly and overtly declared a suffrage cook book. This book was not only a suffrage cookery in name. The contributors' list is a veritable who's who of suffragists including Lucy Stone, Frances Willard, and Mary Livermore; it was sponsored by and featured advertisements by the famed Woman's Journal; it contained tips for household management as well as "eminent opinions on woman suffrage; and the funds it raised went to support the cause.
The Woman Suffrage Cook Book proved to be an effective method for pushing the cause forward. They allowed women to operate on their own behalf, from a culturally sanctioned space of feminine authority; indeed, they allowed women's activism with little to no oversight from men. At the same time that these books disrupted the status quo, they also calmed anxieties about whether the vote would overturn the home and lead women to abandon wife-and-motherhood. An exceptional and rare surviving piece, which documents a new approach and a new age in women's pursuit of equality. (Item #5075)